Archive for July, 2009

The journey is the destination

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

What I found most notable about Paraíso Travel, now showing at the Quad Cinema on 13th Street in Manhattan, is that it is not the story of a desperate immigrant trying to escape debilitating poverty. Marlon is simply addled with desire for the young and highly manipulative Reina, who lures him from his middle-class home in Medellín to accompany her to the United States. In fact, Reina’s needs are beyond anything Marlon can imagine, but that’s not what the story is about. Marlon gets lost upon arrival and wants only to find her again.

The film, directed by Simon Brand, is a colorful portrait of some of the Colombian community in Jackson Heights and, in general, of the ways people find to get by. The supporting cast has a lot of personality, and there’s plenty of music and sex. I only wish Marlon himself were more interesting; while I sympathized with his predicament, I never really grew to like him.

Paper sons

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

More on Chinese Americans: Alison Leigh Cowan in the Times writes about the strategies of hopeful Chinese immigrants after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred most unskilled laborers from China. Immigrants would use study aids to pretend that they were the children of Chinese who were legal residents—or just to make sure they could prove who they actually were. Desperation to get into the United States is nothing new.

You can look at the notebook pages through the Times link above; it even includes a map of the family’s ancestral village. For more on this topic, one commenter recommends the book Paper Families by Estelle T. Lau.

Chinese American museum expands

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

The Times reports that the Museum of Chinese in America has moved to a much larger space at 211-215 Centre St in Manhattan. Its new home, designed by Maya Lin, is in a former industrial machine repair shop.

Exhibits are still moving into the building, which is open Thursdays only through the summer. (They also offer walking tours of Chinatown on Saturdays.) The grand opening is set for Sept. 22. Until then, you can read a lot more about it in the Times. It sounds terrific!